How Police Officers Seize Cash From Innocent Americans

Under civil forfeiture laws, police officers can take money from people with no proof of any wrongdoing, and without filing criminal charges. How does this work, and what happens to the money?

In the United States, the government uses two methods to seize cash or other property. The first, criminal forfeiture, requires that a person be convicted of a crime before his/her property is taken. The second, civil forfeiture, requires neither a conviction nor any proof of wrongdoing. Here, action is taken against a specific piece of property rather than a person

While the police only occasionally took advantage of civil forfeiture in the early 20th century, it truly exploded in popularity in the 1980s, with the rise of the War on Drugs. … The goal was to systematically dismantle the drug world by seizing cash. In the zeal of this anti-drug atmosphere, the low burden of proof required of civil forfeiture seizures was seen as an asset.

Beyond the troubling effects civil forfeiture has on innocent people, the law is inherently problematic: since the profits of these seizures are kicked back to the departments overseeing them, they have an incentive to ramp up their practices — often without professional discretion.

Source: How Police Officers Seize Cash From Innocent Americans

Drones, Valor, and the Future of the Military – The Atlantic

Traditional definitions of valor don’t always account for the practitioners of advanced war-fighting tactics.

Without the enemy’s reciprocal ability to kill, war becomes a particularly brutal form of martial law.

Source: Drones, Valor, and the Future of the Military – The Atlantic


From Comments:

Hasn’t war always been that?

Certainly at some level(s), yes. But logistics challenges, local terrain/survival knowledge, and firearms all provided some aspects of levelling the battlefield — the kind of levelling that permitted the idea of “nation state borders” to exist even conceptually. That relative levelling (e.g. the infeasible logistics of Romania getting invaded and conquered by China in 1800, the financial and human costs of war even in victory) was quite shaken up with the advent of nuclear weapons, and I think they are getting shaken up again by remote warfare capabilities.

The American people were appalled by the Vietnam war and heavily protested it. They protested the Iraq war but mostly forgot about it after a few years. How could a war conducted exclusively remotely and perhaps a few hundred special operations soldiers have anything close to the same domestic impact as a war with significant citizen participation and casualty figures? Can a civilian population practically be mobilized to risk their personal safety to protest a foreign war that directly impacts only their wallets, not their children’s/communities’ lives?

And, like nuclear weapons, planetary-scale deployment of risk-free remote warfare capabilities will belong to relatively few nations (although local deployment will probably become commonplace).

In some ways, it seems like the post-modern incarnation of the proxy war — use armed drones and other remote weaponry instead of funding and supplying an intermediate nation or non-state actor.

“Internet of Things” security is hilariously broken and getting worse | Ars Technica

Shodan crawls the Internet at random looking for IP addresses with open ports. If an open port lacks authentication and streams a video feed, the new script takes a snap and moves on.

While the privacy implications here are obvious, Shodan’s new image feed also highlights the pathetic state of IoT security, and raises questions about what we are going to do to fix the problem.

Source: “Internet of Things” security is hilariously broken and getting worse | Ars Technica


If something advertises itself as “IoT” or “part of the Internet of Things”, you probably do not want it. Assume that whatever it does is completely public to the entire world.

Does it let you see some video from your phone? Assume that video is also broadcast to the rest of the world.

Does it let you turn your home security system on and off from your phone? Assume that everyone else with a phone can also turn that system on or off.

Does it let you change your thermostat from a web page while you’re at work? Or locate your car? Or notify you of pills grandpa didn’t take out of that smart pillbox? Assume everyone else on the internet also has access to that information and those controls.

After Hatton Garden, is it still possible to get away with a heist?

The Hatton Garden raid was meticulous in its planning, dazzling in its complexity – yet still the perpetrators were caught. In this interconnected age, has the Hollywood-style heist become a thing of the past?

Source: After Hatton Garden, is it still possible to get away with a heist?


If heists become widely understood to be impossible, is this the beginning of the end of heist movies. Will there never be an Ocean’s 11 style movie set in a sci-fi future? What about a “The Great Rocket Robbery”? I want to read a story about a small group that manages to steal an entire asteroid made of gold!